Posted 13 May 2022 by Matt / In Group Tastings

No messing around with long-winded, convoluted introductions - we've got rather a lot to get through today.

16 Whisky Sponge reviews. One after another. Strap yourselves in.

The Dramble reviews Decadent Drinks Pulteney Equinox and Solstice 2022 Spring Edition

Bottle Name: Pulteney 2008 Equinox and Solstice 2022 Spring Edition

ABV: 48.5%
Distillery: Old Pulteney
Bottler: Decadent Drinks
Region: Highlands Age: 13
Glass Weight: 489g

The first in the 2022 sequence of Equinox and Solstice head up to Wick for a small batch release (830 bottles) of Old Pulteney. Matured for 13 years in a combination of two 1st fill and one refill ex-bourbon barrels and bottled at the series standard strength of 48.5% ABV. Still available from Decadent Drinks for £75 – though there’s a 20% discount in the offing at present – so £60 if you take advantage of that.

Nose: Peach blossom, pressed flowers and honey spread over crackers joins sack cloth, clean cotton sheets and minerality from pumice and shingle. The addition of water presents sunflower oil, marshmallow and vanilla tea together with desiccated coconut – reduced there’s less minerality abound.

Taste: More overtly rocky now. Salt and concrete provide a chiselled edge, whilst richer honey, golden barley and porridge oats sit alongside gooseberry, limoncello, powdered ginger and a peppery kick. Dilution expresses a sweeter aspect with lychee and salted butter spread over French stick.

Finish: Medium with dry coastalness, salted toffee and limestone.

Pulteney is a distillery where I look for and expect distillery character – and this Sponge edition delivers ample. There’s a keen balance between sweetness and minerality and despite the lowered bottling strength of 48.5% - there’s still plenty of play left for those looking to reduce further. Ticking all my OP boxes, this scores an easy…

Score: 87/100

The Dramble reviews Decadent Drinks Equilibrium Two

Bottle Name: Equilibrium Two

ABV: 55%
Distillery: Edradour
Bottler: Decadent Drinks
Region: Highlands Age: 16
Glass Weight: 489g

A second turn round the merry-go-round of combining Edradour with Ballechin. This edition takes a 2005 Edradour and a 2005 Ballechin that have both been matured in 2nd fill sherry hogsheads for 16 years and smushes them together with a reduction in ABV to 55%. Available from Decadent Drinks for £165 (again discounted by 20% at present).

Nose: Chilli chocolate, salami and Serrano ham sits with plums and scattered berries whilst aromatic Latakia pipe tobacco wisps around lacquered oak panelling that envelopes a gentle, slightly distant log fire that’s at least two rooms away. Water reveals red and black berry cordial and sticky toffee pudding. But there’s a muted wet earthiness abound that takes much of the definition away from elsewhere. Better at the offered bottling strength.

Taste: Sweet, peat and meat. Cranberry jus is served with burnt ends and herby roast potatoes whilst plump raisins joins prunes stepped in black tea. Liquorice, chocolate and tobacco leaves are smoked with hot coals and garden firepits whilst mentholated oak perks into the back palate. Reduction favours the cask with acrid smoke, char and touches of mint chocolate.

Finish: Long in length and offering dark sugars and dark woods lifted by cooling menthol and air dried kiln logs just starting to kindle.

Balance has certainly been achieved here. To a point where I found that any further dilution in ABV below 55% offered immediate diminishing returns – losing both structure and coherence. And that’s rather the rub when combining disparate casks – even if a successful marriage is possible, it’s highly unlikely that the union will last the course without some rectification of the strength. A job well done here in terms of equilibrium - but equally the price is pushing it for me. The 20% ‘spring discount’ currently on offer via the Decadent Drinks website certainly helps though.

Score: 86/100

The Dramble reviews Whisky Sponge Smogen Edition 2012 9 year old Edition 41

Bottle Name: Smogen Edition 2012 Edition 41

ABV: 57.1%
Distillery: Smogen
Bottler: Whisky Sponge
Region: Europe Age: 9
Glass Weight: 489g

What madness is this  - a 9 year old drawn from a knackered 3rd fill barrel?! Colour me intrigued. Bottled at a slightly reduced ABV of 57.1% and with a release of 261 bottles – that are now all sold out.

Nose: Solera lollypop, agave vegetalness, brackish water and damp smoke are joined by hot house vines, bell peppers and wet hay. A seafood bisque and barnyard round things off. The addition of water offers apple turnover, hessian sacking and straw. Fascinating.

Taste: Pickle juice and Tepeztate mezcal (mineral and vegetable - no animal) sit with chalk, brine and wood smoke. Freshly squeezed lemon and lime juices erupt through the development into sweet glazed doughnuts, white pepper and part medicinal wipes, part floor cleaner. Reduction offers a less extreme, but equally as thought-provoking composition of smoked pears, pancake batter and muster hay lofts.

Finish: Long with medicinal/coastal smoke rolling into salted antiseptic, cooling mint and sweeter notes of baked goods.

Possibly the most left-field whisky I’ve sampled this year – the palate in particular is alchemical madness. And yet, whilst arguably on the more extreme side of whisky there’s greatness here. The Sponge description implies that there’s a degree of underdevelopment here – I’d argue that – the spirit has simply not been over-exposed and therefore shines brightly. Less naked, more scantily clad as it were. Lowering the ABV does offer a somewhat less perverse outlook – but I have to say that this is pretty great straight out of the bottle. Put your seatbelts on for this one.

Score: 88/100

The Dramble reviews Whisky Sponge Jura 1991 and 1994 27 year old Edition 46

Bottle Name: Jura 1991 and 1994 Edition 46

ABV: 52.1%
Distillery: Isle of Jura
Bottler: Whisky Sponge
Region: Islands Age: 27
Glass Weight: 489g

A 1991 refill ex-bourbon barrel and a 1994 refill ex-bourbon hogshead have been combined together to form Edition 46 from Whisky Sponge. Bottled at 52.1% and with 334 bottles produced all adorned with a Pattersponge octopus. Still available via Decadent Drinks for £350 (with a 20% discount on that available as of writing).

Nose: Lamp oil and paraffin wax are given a fruity kick from apricot, peach and lemon. Time in the glasses broadens things further with guava and passionfruit. Minerality and herbalness remind me of gose beer with salt and coriander developing alongside granite, shale and woollen jumpers. Dilution expresses reduced orchard fruits and clean cotton alongside pollen and pink wafer biscuits.

Taste: Bright and concentrated. Tart lime, gooseberry and pineapple chunks meet a greenhouse venousness with stems, tree sap, cut grass and slapped mint. Toffee cups join chalk, salt and hewn rock whilst wool and animal hides provide a barny development. The addition of water here results in pretty glorious results – a progressive fruity slide from sweet to sour into tart and supported by wisps of cask-led pepper. A real journey. And wonderfully poised.

Finish: Medium with angelica, gooseberry, mint and lemon merging on well-judged dryness.

Another captivating well-aged IB Jura which once again shows how far away the spirit can get from how it’s presently bottled by the distillery itself. There’s exceptional definition throughout and intricacies every step of the way. And to top it off, despite 27 year of sitting in wood, the cask here has been kept well in check. Pricey stuff (as all older IB Jura has steadily become) – but if you’re looking to cash in the 20% spring Decadent Drinks discount on something really exceptional you could do far worse than this.

Score: 89/100

The Dramble reviews Whisky Sponge Ardnamurchan 2015 6 year old Edition 48A

Bottle Name: Ardnamurchan 2015 Edition 48A

ABV: 57.1%
Distillery: Ardnamurchan
Bottler: Whisky Sponge
Region: Highlands Age: 6
Glass Weight: 489g

The first part of a rather interesting trio. Edition A is drawn from a 2015 refill barrel of heavily peated spirit and bottled at 57.1%.

Nose: Burnt bacon, porridge, wet dog and damp hay sit with boiled vegetables, raw moist peat and marmite spread over toast. Olive brine provides salinity and reinforces what is a rather savoury affair. The addition of water offers ozone and petrichor alongside putty and apple slices. Overall, it’s less burnt and more obviously approachable.

Taste: Pretty bombastic. Medicinal peat smoke with floor cleaner and antiseptic joins lemon zest, rocky cliffs, brine and chimney smoke. Light chilli pepper provide a bite whilst toasted barley tempers. Water moves things into a more fruit focussed place with apples (primarily) and pears together with mandarin peels, coal dust and cold cream.

Finish: Quite long with sustained peat smoke, sharp medicinalness and a citric twist.

Character and power abound with this full-throttle Sponge Ardnamuchan. There’s so much intensity here that any sense of youthfulness is clobbered into submission. And that’s surprising as this has already been reduced down once – god only knows how aggressive it was at natural cask strength. Still, even more water will tame it into a far more approachable proposition. I rather like both aspects depending on my prevailing mood.

Score: 86/100

The Dramble reviews Whisky Sponge Ardnamurchan 2015 6 year old Edition 48B

Bottle Name: Ardnamurchan 2015 Edition 48B

ABV: 53%
Distillery: Ardnamurchan
Bottler: Whisky Sponge
Region: Highlands Age: 6
Glass Weight: 489g

Edition B combines an equal mix of Edition 48A and Edition 48C with a reduction down to 53% ABV. Because reasons.

Nose: Lemon posset, apricot flan and apple compote sit with breezy smoke that’s part coal dust and part lick of medicinal lemon. Damp earth and frosted flakes (sans milk) join sunflower oil whilst freshly baked white bread adds a touch of yeasty quality. Dilution reveals putty and fallen rain together with a less mineral outlook.

Taste: Surprisingly sweet (likely in part from the reduction of cask A!) Orchard and stone fruit salad are drizzled in syrup whilst barbeque briquettes and rock dust sit with a beach fire, electric fire place rocks and a touch of cooling mint. Water doesn’t really work for me here – there’s a real vagueness that quickly develops – along the lines of random smoked fruits. Stick at 53%.

Finish: Medium to long with lingering fruit sugars and rocky touches.

Clever. I enjoyed both casks A+C reduced and here we have both of them combined in that manner – an amalgamation which was always likely to be harmonious. Whilst overall I prefer the purity of Edition A, there’s no denying that the combination of two casks has produced something that stands up in its own right and, when tasted within a triptych offers a clear inside into both cask character and the benefits of ABV reduction. Edition A still edges it for me. But only just.

Score: 85/100

The Dramble reviews Whisky Sponge Ardnamurchan 2014 7 year old Edition 48C

Bottle Name: Ardnamurchan 2014 Edition 48C

ABV: 57.1%
Distillery: Ardnamurchan
Bottler: Whisky Sponge
Region: Highlands Age: 7
Glass Weight: 489g

Edition C of the threesome comes sans peat and with an additional year of age. 163 bottles at an ABV of 57.1%. A real counterpoint to the heavily edition.

Nose: Golden cereals and frosted shreddies join crisp, crunchy sugar, green apple spices and yeasty dough. Peppery Nasturtium flowers and spicy brown bread pep things up alongside damp soils and old musty cellars. Reduction delivers crackerbread, toasted loaf and old sack cloth.

Taste: A collision of sharp, bright fruits and a now more present smoke. Apples in syrup, white grapes, cereals and cask char join touches of cloth and wire wool, whilst wet soils and mentholated oak develop into a dry earthy minerality that underpins the development. The addition of water reveals lemon peels and tart apples alongside fermenting beer. I really rather like this taken down a notch.

Finish: Short to medium with dry, slightly tannic smoke and crunchy sugars.

The most overly youthful of Sponge’s Ardnamuchan trio – with the absence of peat there’s nothing to hide behind. Nevertheless whilst breads, dough and yeasty notes do signify a certain sense of adolescence – here their focus has become part and parcel of the expression itself. And I rather like that.

Score: 83/100

The Dramble reviews Whisky Sponge Bruichladdich 2001 20 year old Edition 49

Bottle Name: Bruichladdich 2001 Edition 49

ABV: 50.9%
Distillery: Bruichladdich
Bottler: Whisky Sponge
Region: Islay Age: 20
Glass Weight: 489g

Whisky Sponge’s 3rd Bruichladdich offering – and the oldest of the bunch so far. A 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel left quietly since 2001 and bottled at 50.9%. A mere 161 bottles from this cask – all sold to either fans of the distillery (and it’s older inclinations) or star children – take your pick.

Nose: A solera ice cream with apricot, greengage, dried banana slices and dragonfruit. Vibrant. Chamois leather and axle grease join sunflower oil whilst golden syrup gives a lift to old damp wood and puff of peat smoke at a distance of 50 yards. Dilution expresses peach posset and vanilla pods with an very old school dustiness.

Taste: Oils, greases and age. Juicy fruits – apple, melon, lychee and peach – straddle hot house vines and leafy smoke (still yards away)  whilst light chilli pepper and char receive some zestiness from orange peels. Reduction offers herbal basil leaf alongside dry earthiness and dusty cellars.

Finish: Medium to long with mint leaves and crumbled biscuits sitting with dried reeds and vines.

Edition 49 marries a sense of elegance with an archetypal older styling Laddie character whilst keeping everything in check throughout. Notably expensive, but notably excellent all the same.

Score: 89/100

The Dramble reviews Whisky Sponge Bowmore 2003 17 year old Edition 50

Bottle Name: Bowmore 2003 Edition 50

ABV: 53%
Distillery: Bowmore
Bottler: Whisky Sponge
Region: Islay Age: 17
Glass Weight: 489g

50 already. That’ll teach me to not keep up with reviewing Sponge bottles. An interesting maturation here. Filled into a refill sherry butt in 2003, but then at some point disgorged (spending time outside of the cask and in an IBC on imagines) before being put back into a different refill sherry butt. The net result – 17 years of maturation. 679 bottled were produced at an ABV of 53%.

Nose: Briquettes, concrete hearthstones, burnt parchment and floral aromatic tobacco leaves sit with prominent pine cones, reed and flax. Fruits develop – reduced, stewed and slightly singed – nectarines and plums – whilst touches of tarriness and suede leather add additional nuances. The addition of water offers ozone and damp hay alongside additional herbal touches of samphire and seaweed.

Taste: Notably smoky for this distillery’s usual style. Coals and coal smoke alongside brown sugar dusted stone fruits, mango and chocolate lime tarts. Salinity runs throughout offering a sharpness that is offset by liquorice, hillside florals, sap and mentholated oakiness. Reduction delivers a more ashy character with dried grasses and slightly medicinal sides of antiseptic.

Finish: Long with rocky/herbal smoke and salt sprinkled fruits.

Ah the wonders of refill wood. There’s a lot to unpick in this well-selected 50th release. In many ways the delicateness that sits outside of the rather pervasive peat smoke (particularly on the palate) is at ends with that character. And yet these asides never feel in anyway disjointed from the whole compositions. And that my friends is the sign of great cask. A fitting milestone Sponge release.

Score: 90/100

The Dramble reviews Whisky Sponge Balmenach 1988 33 year old Edition 51

Bottle Name: Balmenach 1988 Edition 51

ABV: 50%
Distillery: Balmenach
Bottler: Whisky Sponge
Region: Speyside Age: 33
Glass Weight: 489g

Decent age on this. Filled in 1988 into a refill hogshead before being bottled at 50% ABV and with 211 bottles of well-matured goodness resulting.

Nose: Sunflower oil, church tapers and golden syrup (you just know this is going to be a textural whisky straight from the off). Comice pears, pink apples, nectarines and gooseberry fool tartness. Edges of limestone creep in whilst a tingle of white pepper enlivens. Highly appealing. Water expresses toasted cereals, rice pudding and mallow stuffed Rice Crispy squares.

Taste: Thickly composed with plenty of clingy syrup. Greener apples now alongside white grapes and lime peels. Almost fruit oil in character – and rather scalpel with the delivery.. Develops additional tropical notes of kiwi before heading into venousness with asides of menthol and a touch of hewn granite. Dilution offers banana Nesquik powder together with tinned apples. There’s less bite now – and consequently less sharpness and sourness in the mix.

Finish: Medium to long in length. Progressive dryness as the tannins stick to the gums – with plenty of fruit sugars to temper and a touch of cask pepper in the tail.

Crisp, concise and defined fruits are the order of the day – together with a really wonderful sense of weight and body throughout. A touch bite-y in places with tartness and acidity, but that’s starting to nippick. Really very good indeed.

Score: 88/100

The Dramble reviews Whisky Sponge Ben Nevis 1996 26 year old Edition 52

Bottle Name: Ben Nevis 1996 Edition 52

ABV: 50.1%
Distillery: Ben Nevis
Bottler: Whisky Sponge
Region: Highlands Age: 26
Glass Weight: 489g

213 bottles were produced from this refill hogshead of Ben Nevis – bottled at its natural cask strength of 50.1%.

Nose: Brass polish, lamp oil and wild honey join red liquorice and a medley of mango, lychee and underripe kumquat. Powdery light spices persist with both pepper and salt straddling golden waffles and French toast. Reduction sends think deeper into the fruit section with apricot and peach marmalades.

Taste: Immediate vibrant fruitiness. Pineapple, guava and tart gooseberries – all wrapped up in puff pastry. Orange oils are drizzled over crepes whilst wafter biscuits are dipped into golden syrup. Quiche is spread over toast and given a touch of seasoning. Straight-forward yet highly appealing. The addition of water retains much of the shape and structure of the whisky – amping up the cask spices and offering a quartz-like sharpness to the affair.

Finish: Quite long with char, pepper and wonderfully fading tropical fruitiness sustained.

The spice and mineral additions really elevate this fruit-focussed Sponge Ben Nevis. There’s both elegance and impact throughout and fans of the purer, fruiter styles produced from this distillery will not be disappointed.

Score: 88/100

The Dramble reviews Whisky Sponge Inchmurrin 1993 28 year old Edition 53

Bottle Name: Inchmurrin 1993 Edition 53

ABV: 50.7%
Distillery: Loch Lomond
Bottler: Whisky Sponge
Region: Highlands Age: 28
Glass Weight: 489g

A distillate that doesn’t get as much attention as it probably should do. Perhaps in time. Nevertheless, Whisky Sponge Edition 53 hails from Loch Lomond and has been matured in a single refill hogshead for 28 years before being bottled at a cask strength of 50.7%.

Nose: A dainty yet deep combination of pineapple and mango atop of musty parchment paper and damp cellar earthiness. Lemon oils and creamed rice join meringue whilst grassiness and overall intensity grows within the glass as the whisky unravels. Dilution presents more expected Loch Lomond notes of porridge and cardboard, whilst also expressing wet wool and tomato consommé. Challenging, but undeniably attractive.

Taste: Oils and evocations. Graphite oil, resin, putty and peppery limestone open into leafy notes set against cooking apples and freshly made margaritas. Pink wafer biscuits and olive brine join dried mango slices and thin slivers of angelica root. Reduction here produces a char that’s almost smoke like – it’s packed full of industrial greases and lubricants and set against a granite sharpness.

Finish: Long with touches of scattered mint and eucalyptus offsetting fading green fruits and mechanised minerality.

An elegantly left-field Inchmurrin (particularly the palate) that’s surprising at every turn. Whilst there’s a lot here which might sound like square pegs and round holes – rest assured this is a Whisky Sponge highlight. Gracefully non-conformist.

Score: 91/100

The Dramble reviews Whisky Sponge Caol Ila 2003 18 year old Edition 54

Bottle Name: Caol Ila 2003 Edition 54

ABV: 53%
Distillery: Caol Ila
Bottler: Whisky Sponge
Region: Islay Age: 18
Glass Weight: 489g

One of two sister hogsheads reduced down to 53% and bottled concurrently to typify the differences that are possible from an adaptable spirit such as Caol Ila. This one is rather mineral and coastal.

Nose: Craggy rocks and loamy clays provide a real sense of alluvialness whilst damp felt roofing and lemon-imbued surface cleaner join BBQ briquettes and seaweed for some typical Port Askaig action. Green apples and lemon verbena join the party after a little time resting in the glass. The addition of water reveals white chocolate and meat dripping together with wet sand and preserved lemon.

Taste: As oily and mouthcoating as one would expect. Rocky minerals open with pan fats and briny water before giving way to sweet and sour lemon and tart apple slices. Medicinal wipes follow, alongside salted toffee and a glug of fish stock. Reduction here brings out the fruitier aspects of the spirit with lemon gels and refined oils sitting alongside limestone cliffs.

Finish: Long with citric and mineral qualities to the very last.

Despite being less medicinal than many examples from this distillery, Sponge’s Edition 54 retains all of the character that defines this spirit style and its versatility – minerality, citrus and smoke. A little more relaxed given the time in the cask, and no worse for that either. It’s genuinely hard to mess up Caol Ila. This doesn’t.

Score: 87/100

The Dramble reviews Whisky Sponge Caol Ila 2003 18 year old Edition 55

Bottle Name: Caol Ila 2003 Edition 55

ABV: 53%
Distillery: Caol Ila
Bottler: Whisky Sponge
Region: Islay Age: 18
Glass Weight: 489g

The other hogshead. The peatier one.

Nose: Lemon curd and lemon tart provide a citric-led opening before putty, clay and sea breeze give way to vapour rub and cold cream set against nougat and marshmallow. Water expresses ozone and wet blankets together with dried rope and twine.

Taste: Far more potent now. A wave of rocky, sharp and metallic coastalness together with medicinal smoke in the form of antiseptic cream and vaporous smoked menthol. Vanilla buttercream and vegetalness from seaweed, damp ferns and vegetable oil follows. Dilution here really amps the peated stakes up a notch – preserved lemons, granite and a host of ointments, creams and surface cleaners.

Finish: Long and medicinal with lemon cough sweet and the contents of a well-stocked medicine cabinet.

Edition 55 presents a heartily therapeutic version of Islay’s most indy bottled produce. Whilst far more overtly peated than edition 54, it too possesses the golden triptych of lemon, rocks and smoke. This said, I do prefer the sister release overall due to its more obvious level of maturity. Edition 55 is potent…in a phenolic manner that bottlings 50% its age tend toward.

Score: 85/100

The Dramble reviews Whisky Sponge Glen Grant 1995 and 1997 25 year old Edition 56

Bottle Name: Glen Grant 1995 and 1997 Edition 56

ABV: 49.8%
Distillery: Glen Grant
Bottler: Whisky Sponge
Region: Speyside Age: 24
Glass Weight: 489g

A 1995 refill barrel and a 1997 refill hogshead. Their powers combined. And as a result you get 443 bottles at a cask strength of 49.8%. This one is still available to purchase - £175 from Decadent Drinks – or £140 if you take advantage of the spring sale that’s available as of writing.

Nose: Golden barley and green vines join underripe melon, banana peels and a bowl of peaches and cream. Crunchy sugars are mingled with crumbled Rich Tea biscuits whilst touches of grassiness develop. Water reveals doughy buns together with hillside flowers and reeds and a tot of old orange liqueur.

Taste: Nettle tea?! OK then. Then orange jellies, pink grapefruit segments and preserved limes. Golden cereals are sugar dusted before ferns and reeds give way to polished oak, black tea and powdered ginger. Reduction sours and bitters the composition quickly – turning it very steeped tea like and for my taste far too extractive and dry. Nevertheless, the fruit-forward quality is retained throughout.

Finish: Medium with ginger and cracked pepper leading fading fruit jelly sweetness.

Glen Grant is often a very safe bet – particularly at age. This bottling possesses all of the brightness and defined fruits I’d expect, but does come with cask still very much in toe. This is especially the case when taken down a few degrees. Good, but not nearly as winning as the previous Sponge Glen Grant for me.

Score: 85/100

The Dramble reviews Whisky Sponge Glenlivet 2007 14 year old Edition 57

Bottle Name: Glenlivet 2007 Edition 57

ABV: 53%
Distillery: Glenlivet
Bottler: Whisky Sponge
Region: Speyside Age: 14
Glass Weight: 489g

At its original strength of 65% this Glenlivet would have previously looked and tasted something like the frenetically sherried, tactical nuclear Signatory releases that seems to greatly appeal to the particularly masochistic part of the market. If you’ve not tried one of those – you really should. And then you should hastily reach for your water pipette and think calming thoughts about balanced whisky. Fortunately for everyone else Sponge Edition 57 eschews the need for post-drinking cosmetic reconstructive surgery and presents us with a 1st fill sherry hogshead at a much less hazmat ABV of 53%. Yours for £135 from Decadent Drinks.

Nose: Cherries, berries and leafy sherry. A wide selection of red and black berries alongside morello cherries sit with plenty of aromatic tobacco leaf, walnut oil and baked tarts willed with jammy, jellied fruit. Crisp baked strudel sits with sponge cake whilst a glass of Happy Shopper cola is poured on the side. Once reduced further, there’s cinnamon stocks and ginger beer together with a cup of café latte.

Taste: Juicy! Strawberry gel and raspberry chews join cola cubes and chocolate whilst mentholated oak and boot polish sit with wispy tobacco smoke and underlying earthiness. Coffee ground and walnut whip develop alongside glacier cherry sweets. The addition of water offers an interesting juxtaposition of juiciness with dryness – leafy sherry with balsamic sharpness and grainy chocolate.

Finish: Long with chocolate covered berries and a tail treat of salted caramel.

You just know that this Glenlivet was an absolute monster at cask strength. And so I completely admire Angus for making the decision to reduce this down to a far more palatable drinking strength. Despite the diminished ABV this is still an undeniable sherry bomb – and it’ll still take even more dilution without losing its shape or expressiveness. Big, fat, sherried Glenlivet’s can be very silly things indeed – this is far more approachable. Some will likely bemoan the addition of water. I’d argue that whisky is about balance and enjoyment – not a highest ABV dick measuring competition.

Score: 87/100

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